Xcel Energy said that it will "seek resolution of the future of nuclear generation in Minnesota by the legislature in 2003." In filing its legally required resource plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Xcel said that if Prairie Island were to continue to operate past 2007, the state legislature would have to raise the 17-cask limit it imposed on the plant under a 1994 law. If, on the other hand, the legislature does not want nuclear power as part of Minnesota's energy mix, that decision should be made soon, so that the company can focus on other options and abandon efforts such as steam generator replacement for Prairie Island and relicensing for Monticello.
Prairie Island 1 and 2 are 560MWe PWRs whose licences expire in 2013 and 2014. Monticello is a 613MWe BWR whose licence expires in 2010.
Xcel's analysis considered replacement of the nuclear units with coal plants, gas plants and renewables, as well as repowering Prairie Island with natural gas. The report found drawbacks with all the alternatives. Xcel analysed a number of scenarios, varying the shutdown dates of Prairie Island and Monticello as well as the replacement alternatives. Compared to the base case of operating Prairie Island to 2033 and Monticello to 2030, the alternative options generally cost $1-2 billion more over the 30-year period.
A major reason for Xcel's request for prompt action by the legislature is its planned replacement of the two steam generators at Prairie Island in 2004, which the company estimates will cost $132 million. The fabrication, by Framatome ANP, is 55% complete, and detailed planning for the installation is "well under way". However, Xcel would not need to replace the steam generators if the unit is shut down in 2007.